This week we had a letter box drop offering spent mushroom compost, direct form the farm. 20kg bags for about $1 each. We took the ute and brought back 30 bags to top up the vegetable garden beds.
We plan to go away for a month and decided the best way to deal with the vegetable garden is to mulch it heavily and this mushroom compost would be a cheap way to add texture. The plan was to spread it out fairly thickly and then let the chooks in to turn it in, clean out any bugs and seeds and fertilise. When they have finished I plan to add some manures and turn it all in.
Most of the bags had a lot of tiny mushrooms growing in them, but they grew! We have been eating mushrooms a couple of times a day ever since, however they are growing faster than we could have imagined. Tonight I picked about 20 kg of mushrooms and gave bags of them to neighbours and any one else that happened to drop in.
Also cut up very finely, they can be added to a tomato sauce for meatballs.
We have decided that we love these – it is hard to get the saltiness right, but after a couple of weeks (if they last that long) they can be eaten on biscuits with cream cheese and are reminiscent of smoked oysters. Fantastic snack.
This process takes a while, so don’t plan to do anything else for a while.
This is a fantastic way to use a lot of mushrooms and the resulting quantity barely takes any space because the first part of the process requires the mushrooms to be salted. This takes a lot of liquid out and hence reduces the volume considerably.
- Lots of mushrooms. I used about 2 kg
- salt about 1 cup
- white vinegar – enough to boil mushrooms in
- olive oil, about 1 cup
- Any combination of the following:
- strips of lemon zest from 1 lemon
- bay leaf
- sprigs of oregano
- sprigs of thyme
- 2 sliced chillis
- 6 peppercorns
- sprig of rosemary
- sterilised jar, strainer, muslin (old, clean triangular bandage)
Prepare the mushrooms – I peeled them and removed the stems but I had heaps of them and the skins were a bit tough but if using store bought, clean ones, just wiping off the surface would be enough.
Cut the mushrooms into large chunks, or if button mushrooms just cut in half. These shrink a fair bit so the chunks can be fairly large.
As you cut the mushrooms place them into a large container with salt sprinkled in the base then sprinkle more salt over each layer. Occasionally stir the mix and tip off the excess liquid from time to time.
When finished leave for around an hour for the liquid to seep out.
Pour into a sieve lined with muslin, rinse some of the salt off then gently squeeze the excess moisture off.
Bring vinegar to the boil in a pot large enough to hold the now shrunken mushrooms.
Add the mushrooms and return the mix to the boil. This acidifies the mushrooms and acts as a preservative.
Strain the vinegar off (use it as a weed killer) through a muslin lined sieve again and when cooled, gently squeeze off excess liquid.
Spread the mushrooms out on a paper towel lined tray or spread in the dehydrator and dry a little, until still moist but no excess liquid on the outside.
Put some oil in a sterilised jar, add the mushrooms, using a chop stick to move them around and remove air bubbles. Add more mushrooms, pushing them down and add more oil. Fill the jar completely, ensuring there are no air bubbles and the oil covers the mushrooms completely.
Store in the fridge (probably doesn’t need this until opened but I store everything in the fridge), should last for months.
Serve with antipasto platters and salads.
This is another way to preserve those kilograms of mushrooms that I have – takes a fair bit of time for the cooking but not much preparation. The frozen cubes are great to use as an additive to any recipe using mushrooms as a flavouring – pasta sauces, soups, stews, casseroles – any time that mushrooms need to be added just pull out a little cube or two and toss them in,
- 3kg Mushrooms chopped finely – use the food processor (or whatever is available – I am talking glut quantities here – adjust the rest of the quantities based on the quantities of mushrooms used)
- a couple of stems of Thyme – leave attached to the stem and tie it in a knot to be removed later.
- parsley, chopped roughly
- 100g butter or more
- salt to taste – add it towards the end – the mix is quite concentrated by the time it has cooked down that it can be easy to over salt if done too early
Chop the mushrooms finely.
Put the lot into a large pan and let it cook, uncovered, very slowly, stirring from time to time, until it is black.
It will take at least 3 hours of slow cooking – the slowest – keep it simmering slowly until there is very little moisture left.
When cooled place in an ice cube tray. I have purchased large silicone ice cube trays that are fantastic and am now using them for all of my sauces. Freeze.
When solid remove from the trays and wrap each one in plastic wrap,
and put in a zip-lock freezer bag.
Dried mushrooms have turned out to be very handy – I thought that they could only be used when lost in a well cooked dish but I have successfully used them in sauces to go with steak etc or they can be crushed to a fine powder for use in sauces or soups.
They take up little room and are easy to store – I store mine in the freezer but this is probably not necessary.
Slice mushrooms using a mandolin – quite fast
Place on trays in the dehydrator and dry until quite dry, I like to keep going until they can almost snap.
Store in a large bag in the freezer.
When travelling I pack portions into vacuum sealed packs.